Retail

Best Pet Store: The Pet Place. Marc and Lynn Macy, owners, far right, and staff.

PET STORE

The Pet Place is a community gem, devoted to the well-being of animals. This year the local and independent store is celebrating its 25th year in business, and the 25th consecutive year that it has has won the Almanac's Readers' Choice Award for favorite pet store. Owners Lynn and Marc Macy, lifelong Menlo Park residents, are the soul and spirit of The Pet Place in their dedication to animal well-being in every way. The shop offers a full range of pet products, plus many services, such as advice on nutrition, training and care, and referrals to veterinarians, pet sitters, adoption assistance and foster-care resources. You'll find the Pet Place frequently hosting a rescue, adoption or shelter organization event. Check out the website — thepetplacemenlopark.com — for more information.
777 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park | (650) 325-7387

BICYCLE SHOP

"Thanks to all our wonderful customers," said Menlo Velo bicycle shop owner Rainer Zaechelein. "As much as (our customers) appreciate us, we appreciate them." People keep coming back, he said, because Menlo Velo builds relationships and nurtures them. Over the coming year, the bike choices will include more from a new category: gravel bikes, a trend in endurance cycling started in the Midwest. "You want a road bike, but you want it to be able to do everything. That's the bike," he said. The tires are about twice as wide and there's no tradeoff in ease of riding. "That's the beauty," he said.
433 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 327-5137 | menlovelobicycles.com

FLOOR COVERINGS

Menlo Flooring and Design, a family owned and operated business, has been selected for the best floor covering shop in Menlo Park. Although the business is relatively young, founded in December 2013, the staff brings many years of flooring experience with a wide range of expertise. Menlo Flooring offers 17 different flooring styles. Founder Eugene Perez said an advanced showroom is designed to make it as easy as possible for customers to visualize flooring styles and make the best decision for their needs.
905 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 384-6326 | menloflooring.com

Best Bookstore: Kepler's Books. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, left, visits Kepler's bookstore in Menlo Park and meets Dawn Kepler. Photo by Christophe Wu.

BOOKSTORE

Kepler's Books, a Menlo Park institution, has recovered since 2012, when the bookstore closed for six weeks to come up with a new strategy after Clark Kepler retired. The community rallied around the store, which developed a plan to help it thrive in the age of e-books. According to Praveen Madan, community engagement officer, the bookstore has now officially spun off a separate nonprofit entity, Kepler's Literary Foundation, which has an annual budget of about $500,000 and hosts many authors' events. As far as he knows, Mr. Madan said, the bookstore is the first in the country to pay a minimum starting wage of $15 per hour for its staff. Top sellers this year have been titles linked to large book signings at the store by Steve Young and Chelsea Clinton. "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance has been a local favorite of individuals and book clubs, he said.
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | (650) 324-4321 | keplers.com

ART GALLERY

The Portola Art Gallery has become a favorite destination in Menlo Park since moving from the Little Red Schoolhouse in Portola Valley to the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park in 2006. This year it won the Readers' Choice award for favorite art gallery. "(People appreciate) the opportunity to speak with the artists directly when they visit, as the gallery is staffed by artists on a daily basis," said Frances Freyberg Blackburn, a Menlo Park photographer and one of the artists at the gallery. Among the other local artists are Larry Calof, photography, of Atherton; Misako Kambe, ceramics, of Menlo Park; and Alan McGee, photography, of Portola Valley. Recently the gallery has begun featuring the work of Oksana Johnson, a San Francisco-based artist. She is a Russian-American impressionist painter known mainly for her work with oils.
75 Arbor Road (at historic Allied Arts Guild) in Menlo Park | (650) 321-0220 | portolaartgallery.com

Best Boutique, Gift and Jewelry: Shady Lane. Pictured (left to right) Alainah McDonald, Diane Peterson, founder Alice Deutscher, Lauren Tanimoto and Maria Torrey.

BOUTIQUE, GIFT, JEWELRY

The store's motto, "Gifts from the Heart," may explain why readers have picked Shady Lane as their favorite in three categories: boutique, jewelry, and gift shop. After 40 years in Palo Alto, Shady Lane moved to Sharon Heights Shopping Center in Menlo Park in 2015 and has just agreed to stay on in the distinctive octagonal-shaped building there for another five years. "Now that we have a stable base, our selection is better than ever," owner Alice Deutscher says. The shop primarily showcases handcrafted pieces made in the USA, including jewelry, glass, ceramic, woodworking, leather and textile art made by local artisans. Many of the local creators work in the store in exchange for display space.
325 Sharon Park Drive, Sharon Heights Shopping Center, Menlo Park | (650) 321-1099 | shadylanegallery.com

HARDWARE STORE

Convenience and a staff of employees interested in helping customers solve their problems is probably why Menlo Park Ace Hardware has once again taken the Almanac's Readers' Choice award for favorite hardware store, according to store owner Vasile Oros. The store has won the award every year since 2007. "We are glad we are still loved by the people," Mr. Oros said. Over the next 12 months, he said, he and his staff will be focusing "a little more on not only providing the goods, but also the know-how, the solutions."
700 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 325-2515 | menlohardware.com

HOME DECOR AND FURNISHINGS

"We're probably the premier high-end retailer and design showroom in Northern California," says Brian Flegel, general manager of Flegel's Interior Design & Distinctive Home Furnishings, which once again won the Almanac's Readers' Choice Award in the home decor and furnishings category. In fact, Flegel's has won the award for the 25 years that Almanac readers have cast their votes in the Readers' Choice poll. "There's really nobody else like us," says Mr. Flegel, who is in the third generation of the family business. The store that was founded in 1954 by his grandfather, Arthur Flegel, has been owned for many years by his father, Mark Flegel, president of Flegel's. With a 22,000-square-foot showroom, this high-end furniture store emphasizes custom furniture and interior design services. "When one enters a well-designed room there is an unmistakable feeling of well-being," says Flegel's. "It is that feeling that Flegel's designers create through colors, texture and wood tones."
870 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 326-9661 | flegels.com

Best Place to Buy Meat and Best Grocery Store: Draeger's. Pictured (from left to right) Tom Henning, Elieser Chavez, Rafael Perez, Lucio Garcia, Francisco Bibiano and Juan Jimenez. Photo by: Dave Christine

PLACE TO BUY MEAT, GROCERY STORE

Shopping at Draeger's has been a way of life for generations of local residents since 1955, when the market opened in a Quonset hut at 1010 University Drive. The family-owned store features a vast selection of everything from caviar to corn flakes. "Shoppers keep returning to the store because of the freshness and high quality of the products," says Richard Draeger, one of founder Frank Draeger's 10 children. Customers also know they can find everything from daily needs to once-a-year, special-occasion items on the store's shelves, which Mr. Draeger says have a far greater assortment of goods than at typical grocery stores. "It's a value we provide a customer. We really do value our customer's time," he said. "They don't have to shop around."
1010 University Drive, Menlo Park | (650) 324-7700

FLORIST, NURSERY

Ladera Garden & Gifts is again the winner in two categories: favorite florist and nursery. Mercedes and Juan Navarro have owned the business for 36 years. "We're getting a better selection of flowers and more unusual plants because people want them," he says. "We're growing with the demand." Buckets of fresh flowers greet shoppers outside the entryway, ready to be assembled into custom-made arrangements. Inside an array of orchids, vases, china, linen, soaps and other "more trendy" gifts fill shelves. A good-sized greenhouse leads into an outdoor nursery, chock-full of plants, shrubs and trees, attracting many repeat customers year after year.
3130 Alpine Road, Suite 380, Portola Valley | (650) 854-3850 | laderagardenandgifts.com

SHOE STORE

Fleet Feet in Menlo Park is known for having a customer-service focused staff that aims to meet people's running needs, whether they're planning to run their first mile, 5K or marathon, says store co-owner Jim Gothers. Popular running shoe brands now are a Swiss brand called On Shoes, which are "fun to move in," and Hoka, which offers "maximum cushion," according to Mr. Gothers. The store also sells Nike's Zoom Fly shoes, which were developed through Nike's "Breaking 2" effort to help three elite runners attempt to break the two-hour marathon mark. The store is also home to Thursday night group runs and other race training groups. Starting toward the end of August, Mr. Gothers says, the store plans to expand its group run schedule to include Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. "We're trying to reduce barriers to entry for people," he says.
859 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | (650) 325-9432 | fleetfeetmenlopark.com

SPECIALTY STORE

Penzey's Spices has won this year's Readers' Choice Award for favorite specialty store. The first Penzey's was opened in 1957 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since then the business has expanded to 70 locations nationwide, each of which carry a wide variety of spices. Though the manager declined to comment, the broad selection of spices carried by the location in downtown Menlo Park is more than able to speak for itself.
771 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, CA | (650) 853-1785

PRODUCE

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Menlo Park Farmers' Market has become a Sunday morning tradition for people seeking locally sourced produce. The market is run through the Menlo Park Live Oak Lions Club. The club charges a booth fee to vendors that it uses to fund service programs, and distributes leftover produce to local organizations supporting the hungry. About 19 of the market's vendors have been coming to the market since its start in June 1992, and there is a waiting list for vendors to join the market, according to Jim Bigelow, the Lions Club's secretary. Now, he says, the children of some of the vendors have taken over their parents' stalls. The market is held each week rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot off Chestnut Street between Santa Cruz Avenue and Menlo Avenue.
Menlo Park | (831) 688-8316 | facebook.com/MenloParkFarmersMarket